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Aron Nimzowitsch vs Vasja Pirc
"Pirc Up" (game of the day Oct-29-2006)
Bled (1931), Bled YUG, rd 1, Aug-23
Reti Opening: Anglo-Slav. Bogoljubow Variation (A12)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-30-06  ARubinstein: <keypusher> It's possible, but I don't think so. With Polish names, the accent is generally on the first syllable. I think his name is pronounced "RU-been-stine," but I'm not positive.

In the case of Leonid Stein, though, it is pronounced "Shtayne."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Nimzo's original name meant "from Germany" (Russian Nyemyetskii = German man). Losing the e lost the meaning.

Oh, Pirc is a common one. Leonard Barden recalls playing him, and greeting him with "Good morning, Mr Perk", and Pirc coldly replied, "Young man, my name is Peerts". And a chess column in a major Wellington, NZ newspaper had this atrocious joke, predicated on the mispronunciation, "What does a chess player do when he wants a cup of coffee? He plays the Pirc."

Maróczy is pronounced MAHR-ot-see, not MarOXy.

Soltis's book "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" has a list of pronunciations of Russian names. The ones I remember from what Russian chess players pronounced were accurate, so this is a good guide. E.g. Korchnoi was not "KORCHnoy" but "karchNOY"; Alatortsev was not "allaTORTsev" but "aLAHRtartsev". The main trap is that Russians pronounced non-stressed "o" as "a".

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheAlchemist: <ARubinstein> <It's possible, but I don't think so. With Polish names, the accent is generally on the first syllable. I think his name is pronounced "RU-been-stine," but I'm not positive.

In the case of Leonid Stein, though, it is pronounced "Shtayne.">

But aren't all three, namely Bronstein, Stein and Rubinstein Jewish names, so my guess would be, that they're pronounced similarly?

And please, no more Pirc jokes for a while. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <And please, no more Pirc jokes for a while. :-)>

Or there will be dire repircussions.

Oct-31-06  ARubinstein: <The Alchemist> Yes, all three are Ashkenazic Jewish names, but they are often pronounced differently depending on the country where the person is from. For example, as you probably know, Kasparov's original last name was Weinstein (he later changed it to Kasparov, after his mother). There are Weinstein's in many countries, but the name is pronounced differently in the U.S., for example, than in Russia.
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  al wazir: <Jonathan Sarfati>: Thanks for a very informative post; I doubt though that you'll ever convert the heathen. al-YOKH-een will go on being miscalled AL-e-kine until the sun cools.

I had a quibble: if Maróczy is a Magyar name, as I believe, shouldn't it be pronounced MAHR-o-chee?

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  TheAlchemist: <al wazir> As far as I know, "cz" is pronounced as "ts", while "cs" is pronounced as "ch".
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: My dictionary says that "czárdás" is pronounced CHAR-dahsh. (That's not what it actually says; I am translating from the phonetic characters it uses.)
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  Jonathan Sarfati: <al wazir> Thanks. About "czardas", in fact the Hungarians spell it csárdás, so the "cz" spelling is a transcription into another Eastern European language. GM Csom is pronounced "chom". Indeed, one common transliteration of "tsar" is "czar".

About Alekhine, you're basically right. Even Dzindzichashvili in one of his chess videos had to say "Allakyne" otherwise the notoriously foreign-language-illiterate American market would not understand, although Dzindzichashvili would surely know better.

There was a letter in the US chess magazine about 15 years ago by someone who related that John Fedorowicz told him that he used to pronounce his name "fedORRowits" then changed to "fedoROvich" because that is how Europeans said it. The pillock then whinged about how the Europeans were mispronouncing a "good American name".

However, about "al-YOKH-een", Kmoch relates in

"I remembered that Alekhine used to
get angry if his name was pronounced Al-YOH-khin, the way Russians sometimes pronounced it. The correct Russian pronunciation, he said, was Al-YEH-khin, explaining that the name was derived from that of a tree (*alyesha*) that grew abundantly near one of his family's estates. "Al-YOH-khin," he claimed, was a Yiddish distortion of his name, like Trotsky for Troitsky or Feigl for the German Vogel. But strangely, no one whom I ever heard pronounce the name Al-YOH-khin was Jewish. One was a friendly elderly gentleman named (I believe) Tereshchenko. A Russian ‚migr‚ like Alekhine, he had been named to the position of Alekhine's second in the 1929 match against Bogolyubov mainly to please the world champion. He immediately antagonized Alekhine by addressing him as "*Gospodin* [Mr.] Alyokhin.""

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Oh, the pronunciation of Alatortsev should be "aLAHtartsev". I rendered it "aLAHRtartsev" carelessly because Australian and New Zealand English are both non-rhotic like British "received pronunciation" but unlike most American varieties, i.e. we don't pronounce the r when it is the end of a syllable.
Oct-31-06  Resignation Trap: Pirc was a great Coffee House player...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Starbucks or local?
Oct-31-06  Resignation Trap: I think he preferred The Kibitzer's Café .
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Jonathan Sarfati>: Thanks again. When did Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein (or Bronshteyn in the Russian pronunciation) ever call himself "Troitskii"? True, we tend to think of the pseudonymous trio -- Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky -- as a "trinity," but they never so thought of themselves.

As for the origin of Alekhine's name, I think he was blowing smoke. What is this tree "alyesha"? That's not a Russian word. "Alyeska" is the native form of "Alaska." Maybe that's where this supposed estate was located.

And "pillock"???

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <al wazir> You may well be right about Alekhine blowing smoke. I couldn't find anything about an "alyesha" tree either. I was just the messenger :$ I think his point, which I am merely reporting, was that Lev Davidovich Bronstein, a Jewish Marxist, chose a distorted Russian name for himself. The other ones are clear: Lenin from the huge river Lena where tsarist soldiers shot striking gold workers, Stalin from stal' = steel. The great GM Bronstein did not endear himself to Stalinist because his son was also called Lev Davidovich Bronstein (he had no choice re patronymic, but the first name ...).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: < Jonathan Sarfati: Oh, the pronunciation of Alatortsev should be "aLAHtartsev"> Thanks for clearing up that (non-)rhoticism. Us R-users (in Ireland, Scotland, and much of North America) are constantly thrown by the way non-rhoticists casually use them as vowel extenders. To pick a non-chess example, as a child I was baffled as to how 'Eeyore' could possibly signify 'Hee-haw'. But it does...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: As regards Nimzo's name, this extract from Kmoch is probably definitive:

"The Russian word nyem-tso-vitch, with the stress on the first syllable, can be translated as "son of a German." In the Latin alphabet the name has appeared in a variety of spellings, none of them specifically sanctioned by its owner, as far as I know. The most common form in English is Nimzovich, though it misrepresents the correct pronunciation of the first vowel."

The full article is at and is distinct from the Kmoch piece on Alekhine previously cited.

Nov-17-06  RookFile: I remember I had some Russian friends, although they were young, who were saying 'nim ZO vich' - accent on the second syllable - and that struck me as odd and probably incorrect.

For bonus points: how do you pronounce Pirc's name?

Hint: this isn't it: PERK. Lol.

Nov-17-06  ARubinstein: <For bonus points: how do you pronounce Pirc's name?

Hint: this isn't it: PERK. Lol.>

You're a bit late...

Nov-17-06  PaulLovric: PIRTCH
Dec-19-06  think: <RookFile> pEErk (the first part is pronounced like the word peer) I believe is the correct pronunciation.

Is the main continuation here 29. hxg3 Qxg3+ 30. fxg3 Rg2+, after which black gets a nasty windmill?

Dec-19-06  Cyphelium: <think> After 29. hxg3, it's mate in two after 29.- ♕h5. 30. ♘e4 ♗xe4 31. f3 ♕h2 mate. The windmill seems to blow a halfpoint, since after 29. hxg3 ♕xg3+ 30. fxg3 ♖g2+ 31. ♔h1 ♖xd2+ 32. ♔g1 ♖g2+ 33. ♔h1 ♖b2+, black can take the queen alright, but he will find himself a rook down after doing so. So he'll have to take the draw by perpetual check.
Jan-23-07  alterego: the pronounciation of Pirc is Pirts, as in "itsy-bitsy"
Dec-19-10  swr: Some corrections.

Alekhine should be pronounced "alEkhin" (it is indeed a Russian E, not ¨ as some believe)

Nimzovich = nimTSOvich (the stress must be on the second syllable, even according to some basic rules of the Russian language, it could impossibly be on any other syllable)

Weinstein = veynSHTEYN (this is the Russian pronunciation of course. obviously the German pronunciation would be more "correct")

same pattern for Rubinstein etc

Feb-01-12  RookFile: Pirc had wonderful bishops in this game.
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